Santa Paula Times

GMSP: EDC-VC CEO notes education important for Ventura County to stay competitive

February 25, 2009
Santa Paula News

The President/CEO of Economic Development Collaborative of Ventura County (EDC-VC) addressed economic prosperity in Ventura County at a recent Good Morning Santa Paula.

By Peggy KellySanta Paula TimesThe President/CEO of Economic Development Collaborative of Ventura County (EDC-VC) addressed economic prosperity in Ventura County at a recent Good Morning Santa Paula. State Farm Insurance/Jim Tovias hosted the Chamber of Commerce-sponsored event held at Logsdon’s at the Santa Paula Airport.With a sharp focus on the attraction, retention and expansion of businesses in Ventura County, the Economic Development Collaborative-Ventura County (EDC-VC) works to maintain the county’s economic health and vitality. A regional public/private economic development organization, the EDC-VC delivers programs that promote jobs and economic growth, and raise overall productivity and incomes.EDCVC President/CEO Bruce Stenslie gave a wide-ranging address and noted that economic prosperity in Ventura County will rely on education to deal with “competitiveness in the future.... No one has the magic bullet of where key investments” will be made, but several are prominent.Ventura County’s educational opportunities will remain important, and “its competitiveness in the future will be based on skill of workforce.” And although it’s not the specific role of the organization to “fix education,” this must be done on numerous levels.Stenslie said it is difficult to recruit new business to Ventura County, as the area cannot claim cheap land or cheap labor. “It’s very difficult to attract business to California and the Central Coast” based on those issues.
The Economic Development Collaborative of Ventura County has found that the number one “barrier” to new business is the lack of access to capital, a need that can be addressed in certain cases by EDCVC as well as small business consulting. “And,” noted Stenslie, “we have the capacity to do a lot more to create a broader network” of business assistance.An opportunity in improving the county’s economy with new business is the access to global markets offered in Ventura County, such as the partnerships being formed with the Port of Hueneme to ship goods worldwide.As a true collaborative voice of Ventura County, the EDC-VC is funded through contributions from the County of Ventura, nine cities in the county, and top-level private sector executives.The EDC-VC Revolving Loan Fund Programs and the Business Enhancement Program have been responsible for the creation and retention of more than 1500 jobs since 2001. A conservative estimate shows the economic impact of the jobs created and saved from 2001-2006 to be more than $177 million for Ventura County.“We are a private organization” that has no elected officials serving as EDC-VC directors, and Stenslie said the organization works closely with the county Job and Career Centers that connect workers and businesses. Funding is provided to EDC-VC to “work with businesses,” including those on the verge of failing.“We try to prevent them from going under and we count on an annual basis the number of workers we helped stay on the job.... The Job and Career Centers are funded to invest in workers,” and Stenslie said although the EDC-VC is more geared toward working with business, “we are so intertwined.”